Located at the foot of Diamond Head, this park was originally named by King David Kalakaua for his wife Queen Kapiolani. The king presented the park to the people of the Kingdom on Hawaii and dedicated to the Queen in 1871.
In the days of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the park contained many lily and goldfish ponds, and several islands with royal palm trees, hibiscus and native plants. The park’s ponds were eventually filled in the 1920’s with the dredging from the Ala Wai Canal project.
Today the park is the site for many activities. Picnicking, soccer, football, rugby and softball are regularly scheduled here. It is one of the most popular jogging parks with a circumference of 1.8 miles around the park itself or the extended route that includes the exterior of Honolulu Zoo is 2.2 miles. There is a fitness course with exercise stations along the route. Along Paki Avenue nearest the base of Diamond Head, there is an archery range, the Diamond Head Tennis Center and the offices for the City and County Lifeguards.
Toward the rear of the Waikiki Shell is where the headquarters for the Royal Hawaiian Band. This band is the oldest municipal band in the nation. They hold regular concerts in the bandstand on Sunday afternoons. Also held on the grounds of the Waikiki shell was the traditional Kodak Hula Show. This show originated in 1937 at a beachfront location in the park adjacent to the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. The show was an offering of traditional Hawaiian song and dance of the Kalakaua period.
Along the Kalakaua Avenue side of the park nearest to the beach, there is the Waikiki Aquarium. Established in 1904, this aquarium is the third oldest public aquarium in the nation. Across Kalakaua Avenue near the makai tennis complex, there is reminder of the park’s older days. The Hawaiian Tramways Company provided a horse tramcar system and later the Honolulu Rapid Transit operated electric trolley service from downtown Honolulu. Done in a Victorian style, the shelter was built in conjunction with the opening of the Waikiki Aquarium to encourage visitors to enjoy their new public park. Evidence of the railway still exists in the concrete along the floor of the shelter.
The only fountain in the park is located across the street from the Elk’s Club at Poni Moi Street. This fountain was dedicated to Louise Gaylord Dillingham who was the wife of Honolulu executive Walter Dillingham. Just adjacent to the Elk’s Club is the exclusive Outrigger Canoe Club. A social and sports club founded in 1908 to revive the ancient sport of surfing. The club moved to this location in 1964 from a site where the Outrigger Waikiki hotel now stands.
There are many beaches, parks and activities available in and around Kapiopani Park. For those who want haven’t the time to gather up endless information about Oahu, downloading a Hawaii travel app can make creating your vacation Hawaii style quick and easy.
Lottie Tagupa is a native Hawaiian, born and raised on the island of Oahu. She has been writing about Hawaii for over 10 years and currently lives in Waimea on the Big Island
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